The Other Foreclosure Crisis: Losing A Home Over $400 In Back Taxes [View all]
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- People are losing their homes over unpaid tax bills that, in some cases, add up to just a few hundred dollars.
Outdated state laws that allow local governments to sell tax liens on delinquent properties to investors in order to more quickly collect on overdue property taxes is sparking a second "foreclosure crisis," a report from the National Consumer Law Center said Tuesday.
When homeowners don't pay property taxes or other municipal bills, like water or sewer fees, local governments have less money to maintain services like schools, police and fire departments and road maintenance. By selling tax liens, those governments can collect on what it is owed.
Investors, in return, effectively own a claim against the property until the homeowner pays the county or municipality back or until they default on the debt entirely. The investor can either collect interest on the taxes owed from the homeowner. Or, if the homeowner fails to pay up, the investor can take possession, or foreclose, on the home.